Dependent Personality Disorder Counseling in Sterling, VA


When Buster Bluth walked into the boardroom of his father’s business for the first time, he was in an impossible position. His father had been arrested, and his older brother, who had run the company, had resigned because he was fed-up. Buster volunteered to try to keep the Bluth’s development company afloat. By the end of his first meeting with the company’s employees, during which Buster flopped, he was sinking under the conference table, saying, “you guys are so smart.” Buster’s difficulties did not begin or end with that business meeting, however. He is a fully-grown adult who cannot seem to support himself or make a decision of his own. Buster lives to please his mother, Lucille. Buster, of course, is not real. He is a character on the hit show Arrested Development, but the disorder that he displays is very real and plagues many people. Buster has dependent personality disorder.

Buster displays all the classic symptoms of dependent personality disorder—the low self-esteem, the need to please an authority figure, the inability to rely upon himself, the inability to maintain relationships outside of his family. The show used comedy to bring awareness to this serious disorder. People who have been diagnosed with dependent personality disorder face significant life challenges, especially as they move from adolescents into adulthood. Setting up their own distinct life, separate from an authority figure in their lives poses significant emotional and psychological difficulties.

If you have or think you may have dependent personality disorder, know that effective treatment is available. Several therapeutic methods as well as medications have proven effective for treating dependent personality disorder, and Thriveworks Sterling offers these treatments. Our therapists and counselors work with each client, formulating an individualized treatment plan for dependent personality disorder.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?


The keys indicators of dependent personality disorder are people’s belief that they cannot sufficiently rely upon themselves to fulfill their material and psychological needs as well as their need for others to care for them. Often, people with dependent personality disorder are clingy and experience separation anxiety. They often underestimate what they are capable of as well as accept criticism and disapproval wholesale. In fact, many people with dependent personality disorder are their own harshest critics.

In general, dependent personality disorder develops as people enter early adulthood. Diagnosing the disorder any earlier should only be done with utmost caution as some of its characteristics are developmentally appropriate for a child or adolescent but are not appropriate for an adult.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives a full description of dependent personality disorder (301.6[F70.7]). The main indicators are:

  1. A need to be cared for.
  2. Submissive behavior.
  3. Fear of separation.

People will also display five or more of the following as well:

  • Difficulty making daily decisions without advice and reassurance from others or from an authority figure. For example, an adult may need to call her mother about every decision she makes, even buying groceries or a new sweater.
  • Feeling very uncomfortable with being oneself. In particular, a fear of being unable to care for oneself.
  • Having someone else be in charge of major areas of one’s life. For example, parents who still pay an adult child’s bills.
  • Doing anything to ensure the support and nurture continue. Specifically, individuals may compromise their identity or values in order to please others.
  • Intensely and realistically fearing abandonment, especially when it means individuals would have to care for themselves.
  • Complying with what others think and believe in order to avoid losing their approval and/or support. For example, people may hide their true political beliefs, but they may also be afraid to share which restaurant they prefer.
  • Bouncing quickly to a new care-taking relationship after another one ends. In particular, this is rooted in fear of being alone.

Dependent personality disorder inhibits people’s social and professional functioning. Individuals often limit their social circle to people who care for them in some way. Professionally, their lack of confidence, initiative, and ability is often a hindrance to their advancement. People with dependent personality disorder also face an increased risk of other adjustment and personality disorders as well as depression and anxiety.

Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
—Michel de Montaigne

Treating dependent personality disorder is possible, but one major pitfall must be avoided: the client cannot become dependent upon the therapist. When formulating a treatment plan, therapists must be cautious and keep the client’s focus upon becoming self-reliant and independent. Several therapies and medications can be used, depending upon the symptoms a client displays. These may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy looks at how an individual may be responding and thinking about their situation. It confronts untrue and negative thought patterns such as, “I am helpless on my own” and seeks to replace these with accurate, true thoughts.
  • Medication: When clients also display symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, medication may be a part of a holistic treatment plan. Almost always, medicinal treatment will be combined with another form of psychological treatment as prescriptions focus upon symptom relief but do not heal root issues.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: This therapy is a long-term commitment, but it has a proven record of results treating dependent personality disorder. It explores how the dependency formed and the effects it has had one a client’s psyche.

Appointments at Thriveworks Sterling

If you or someone you love is battling dependency, you do not have to fight alone. Thriveworks Sterling has appointments available, and our therapists and counselors treat dependent personality disorder. When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. Let’s get started. Call Thriveworks Sterling today.

Thriveworks Counseling
45575 Shepard Drive Suite 101
Sterling, VA 20164

Tel : (703) 348-5217

Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8AM-9PM
Sat-Sun: 8AM-5PM

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